Easy to grow and prized for its fall foliage, the burning bush makes a nice addition to your garden. This is a guide about growing a burning bush.
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Burning bush prefer to grow in a sunny spot, and in soil that is moist (not wet) and slightly acidic. Fortunately, they also adapt to partial shade, poor soil, dry soil, and the wrong pH, although each of these elements may adversely affect their fall color display.
Things to consider:
The rapid breakdown of hardwood mulch around the shrubs may result in a nitrogen deficiency (yellow leaves and slow growth). This can be remedied by yearly applications of fertilizer, or by switching to a mulch that decays more slowly.
Plants benefit from being fertilized annually in the spring before new growth begins. Have your soil tested first to determine existing nutrient levels before starting a fertilizer regime.
Burning bush growing in alkaline soil may develop mild leaf chlorosis (yellowing leaves). Like nitrogen deficiencies, this problem can also be remedied through a yearly application of the right type of fertilizer.
Prolonged stress like an extended summer drought may cause your burning bush to turn color prematurely.
Burning bush is generally trouble-free, but watch out for scale and powdery mildew.
Exposure: Sun/partial shade.
Soil: Not super fussy, but does need ample drainage.
Form: Shrub-like; starts with an upright growth habit becoming more rounded with age.
Foliage/bark: 1 to 3-inch long narrow leaves, finely serrated; medium to dark green in summer and turning flaming red (full sun) to pale pink (shade) in the fall. The bark has visible corky ridges on the regular-sized species, but is smaller and less distinctive on the so-named "dwarf" variety.
Flower/fruit: Inconspicuous flowers in late spring/early summer; produces tiny red-orange fruits in the fall that are attractive to wildlife.
Height/spread: Will slowly grow to 8 to 10 feet tall with a spread as wide ("Compactus"); other varieties may be much taller. Euonymus alatus 'Rudy Haag' is shorter - typically reaching 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
Growth rate: Slow to moderate.
Hardiness: Most varieties are hardy to zone 4.
Winged burning bush can invade a variety of disturbed habitats including forest edges, fields, and roadways. Once established, it can form a dense stand that chokes out native vegetation. Before planting burning bush, check the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States to see if it is considered a threat in your area.
By Ellen Brown
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Here are questions related to Growing a Burning Bush.
What kind of food should I use on my Burning Bush?
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By leah0860 from Morganville, NJ
By Dottie Baltz10/23/2009
They don't require a lot of care. An organic mulch is really all they need because the mulch will break down over the years and improve the soil. If they were doing poorly this year, an inch of compost around them will help feed them without stressing them.
I sprayed my yard with bug spray and since then all the leaves have fallen off of my burning bushes and they look dead. It is August and I don't know what to do to make them produce more leaves. Should I go ahead and prune them to three inches or wait until early spring? We live in Tennessee and the temps are crazy this time of year so I don't know what to do. Can anyone help?
I don't know my gardening zone, but I want to know if a burning bush will grow where I live? Sometimes it is very windy. Also where can I buy the plant? Thank you.
By Jayne from Mulege, Baja Sur, Mexico
I live in Wisconsin, and my bush only turns red in the fall, right before it goes dormant.
Can I trim a burning bush after the leaves fall and before winter sets in? We live in New York state.
By Janet M.
This page has some information about pruning.
Generally, I believe early spring and later winter are good times to do heavy pruning. Light trimming can be done just about any time.
What is the proper time to prune a burning bush?
Hardiness Zone: 7a
By Earline from Henderson, NC
I have several burning bushes and I prune them whenever I think of it, Any time I have my pruners in my hands maybe pruning something else. They have always done fine. I don't think you could kill them if you tried.
I live in Texas, when is the best time to plant a dwarf burning bush?
Hardiness Zone: 8b
By Lou from San Angelo, TX
I was wondering if you can get a start off a burning bush, plant it, and it will grow?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Shelly from Patricksburg, IN
By Sue Nugent05/19/2010
I'm not sure about the rooting of the burning bush, but a lot of folks don't know that the burning bush drops seeds readily each year and a good friend might be more than willing to give you all the starts you need. I don't mulch under my bushes, so that may be helpful to know. They drop seeds under the mother plant and they come up everywhere like crazy.
My sister says the leaves on her burning bush are looking like you can almost see thru them. I want to help her with them, but am not sure where to start or what exactly to do.
By Libby F.
I just noticed that the rabbits did quite a number on all my burning bushes this winter. They have pruned them down quite a bit. Will this affect their growth this summer? Or doesn't it matter?
Hardiness Zone: 5b
By Vicki from Hannibal, NY
By PENNY K03/14/2010
If the trimming was mainly on the ends of branches towards middle, bush will probably be fuller. If they took off whole branches in uneven manner, hard to say. Pruning often encourages growth.
Is it too late to plant a burning bush?
By Jr from MO
Q: I have a bug problem and no idea what they are. I have a Burning Bush, now 3 years old. I found what looks like black aphid looking bugs. They are very sticky and the black ants are all over where they are. The growth that they are on looks wilted. I have cut off all the bad parts but they come back. I am looking for a natural way to rid of them because the bush is near our garlic. Does anyone know what these are, the cause of them, how to rid of them?
Hardiness Zone: 5a
Countrygal from New Castle, PA
It sounds like you have a classic case of aphids. The sticky substance you're referring to is called honeydew and is secreted by the feeding aphids. Ants just love to feed on honeydew, hence the sudden explosion of ants around your bushes. Some species of ants will actually "farm" aphids-caring for them and protecting them so that the ants have access to a constant supply of honeydew.
Give the leaves a good forceful spray (within reason) with the garden hose. This will knock off most of the aphids. To get rid of the remaining pests, mix 1 finely chopped onion, 1 large clove of finely chopped garlic, and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap with 2 cups of water. Put this all in a blender on high and then strain out the solids using cheesecloth or the toe of an old pantyhose. Pour this into a hand-held sprayer and spray this all over your burning bush. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for several weeks and keep using it at the first sign of trouble.
Keep your eye on them--once the ants discover them, they may well take care of the problem! If not, mix up some mildly soapy water and spray that on the bushes, it should take care of them! (Luckily they're easy to get rid of!) Watch, though, that they don't invade other plants, or get on your roses.
My burning bush has small, completely black bugs, that have not moved yet. I found them on end of new growth, under leaves, and on the stem, in clusters. They are making the leaves roll and turn towards the inside. I have never seen this before. I have not introduced anything new in 3 years.
By Ellen B
I'm having the same problem. They look like aphids, only black. Lady bugs seem to be eating them, but there's not enough lady bugs to really make a difference. I've been making a spray of 2 Tbsp. dish soap, 2 tbs veg oil in a spray bottle of water. Then blast them with it. On alternate days I just knock them off the plant with the force of the water from the hose. Seems to be helping, but I notice the ends of the plants are dying where they were.
And I had just gotten these plants looking good after a couple winter's ago when the rabbits completely girdled them.
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
How and when do I plant a burning bush?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
Jean from Adena, Ohio
Will a burning bush grow in acidic soil where pine trees used to be?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Sue from Niles, MI
By Ellen Brown ***
Hardiness Zone: 5b
Donna from Orange Count, NY
Burning bushes happen to be one of my favorite shrubs. They are low maintenance and offer wonderful fall color, and add interest to the winter landscape. Here are some hints for growing them:
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
By Tina, zone 5
Is there any special winter care for burning bushes?
Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Kim from Des Moines, IA